HSR Beale Street Terminal Required Watermark Demolition
A plugged-in tipster reports with a bit of concern:

I am a resident at the Watermark [501 Beale], and we just received a lovely bulletin that our building is right in the path of the planned California Highspeed rail…

If you go to Page 13 of the [December 8 Transbay Transit Center Rail Update] you’ll see that the plans are to “demolish residential highrise” with an image of the Watermark.

Keep in mind this Watermark demolition scare is all in the context of building San Franciso’s High Speed Rail terminus on Beale rather than at the Transbay Terminal as is being evaluated by the California High Speed Rail Authority but as is opposed by Pelosi, Schwarzenegger and others.
And if we’re interpreting the presentation correctly, Baycrest Towers at 201 Harrison Street would have to be demolished as well. Again, assuming it’s the Beale Street Alternative terminal that’s adopted for California’s High Speed Rail rather than the Transbay.
12/8/09 HSR Rail Update/Beale Street Alternative [transbaycenter.org]
More Evidence Of A High Speed Snub For The Transbay Transit Center [SocketSite]
Pelosi And Schwarzenegger Type For A Transbay HSR Terminus

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Gil

    Interesting.
    Quentin Kopp has a big piece in the current Westside Observer on this topic.
    He lambasts the Transbay Terminal Authority and PTB for trying to force the Transbay Terminal site.
    Apparently the AG earlier this year informed the Transbay Terminal Authority they can’t limit evaluation of the other 3 options. Kopp says the TTA was trying to do just this.
    One interesting thing – apparently the Transbay site, unlike the sites in SJ, LA and Fresno, can’t accomodate the 12 trains per hour projected for peak times in 2035. The other SF sites can.
    Kopp also points out the cost for extending the tracks 1.3 miles to First and Mission, from King, is 2.8 billion while the cost for the whole 450 mile project is 33 billion.
    Interesting stuff. Was this the case of certain PTB trying to foist a site to feather their pockets? If its true as Kopp says that 1st and Mission won’t be able to handle projected peak traffic then why consider it at all.
    That grand scheme of 60 and 70 story towers around First and Mission was going to make someone a lot of money.
    With the economy, this posted story and Kopp and others now really pressing this, don’t be surprised to see the whole First/Mission HSR station and development vision quickly collpase.
    [Editor's Note: Two related links and past SockeSite pieces: While San Francisco Might Get High-Speed Rail, Will The Transbay? and Unplanned Obsolescence For Transbay High-Speed Station Design?]

  2. Posted by EBGuy

    Headline: Eminent domain rescues underwater condo buyers
    Oh, and check out the green line (any comments from the transportation wonks?)

  3. Posted by tipster - and none of the above is true

    That’s an old map. The new one has the rails running through the lobby of the Watermark.
    Because the trains will only run 5am to 1am, it was decided that the existing building could remain over the tracks. The parking for the building and common amenities like the pool will be removed, but otherwise, the building will be unchanged and the residents can remain.
    The state will pay each resident $3500 for the loss of amenities. The vibrations and noise from the trains are not compensable because some people get used to them after only a few years.

  4. Posted by Paul Hwang

    tipster,
    Also think of all the money you will save in quarters, now that the bed will be able to vibrate on its own.
    Paul

  5. Posted by Legacy Dude

    This thing has as much chance of getting built as Starfleet Headquarters does in the Presidio, so I wouldn’t fret much. Besides, if it ever does come to fruition, it’ll be 2050, at which time the Watermark will be a historically protected building like everything else in this city built more than 5 minutes ago. Landmark #847: former site of greedy flipper equity slaughterhouse.

  6. Posted by intheknow

    the Beale Street “alternative” has zero chance of getting selected or moving forward. It was studied multiple times and dismissed multiple time over the past 20 years. This sudden to-do is a transparent ploy by Quentin Kopp to cast a perception of confusion over the Transbay project to decrease its currently good chances of getting immediately available federal stimulus HSR dollars so that other segments can be elevated for funding, likely SoCal areas. This is also a pure power play by Kopp and CAHSR to assert itself as the supreme gatekeepr of all HSR funding allocations in CA, asserting itself over TJPA and the City of SF. Kopp’s claims regarding Transbay are either exaggerated or simply wrong, and would not be improved upon by this already dismissed and even more complex, disruptive and expensive alternative. There is no question about whether Transbay Transit Center will be the SF terminus of HSR. This is just a temporary smoke screen, though Kopp’s renegade shenanigans could cost a lot of money and delay for everyone. Hopefully the fact that everyone, including the Governor, both Senators, the Speaker of House, and every local decision maker in SF (Mayor, Board of Supes, every city agency), are in unanimous harmony regarding HSR at Transbay will override this sorry nonsense and deliver the necessary funds to keep the project on track.

  7. Posted by analogy

    Quintin Kopp = the Joe Lieberman of California

  8. Posted by anonm

    Headline: Eminent domain rescues underwater condo buyers
    Actually, I’ve wondered about that. What happens when they exercise em dom on underwater properties? Given the ROW acquisition time table, it could happen quite frequently – not just on the TBT approach – but through the entire Central Valley (e.g., Fresno and Bakersfield).
    Will the govt pay off the entire mortgage balance for these people? Will it pay market value and stick the bank with the loss (i.e., allow the former owners to default with no ramifications)? Or will it pay market value and force the owners to go bankrupt? The first two scenarios would be a great win for the owners…the last doesn’t seem like it would be politically feasible.

  9. Posted by Observer

    For those interested there is an open house with more details on this at the South Beach Marina Clubhouse today starting at 5.30pm, see you there!

  10. Posted by lyqwyd

    @intheknow
    The Beale alternative is far superior to the current plan of putting rail in the basement of the Transbay Terminal for these reasons:
    Allows for 12 platform tracks vs. six in current proposal, meaning much more room for growth, and better operational flexibility. It also means all Caltrain & HSR trains can use the station, while the current plan means most Caltrain trains will still have to end at 4th & King.
    Fewer, and more tolerant curves, meaning much less wheel squeal, and lower maintenance costs, and faster approach speeds, saving time for every passenger of every train.
    The current transbay plan was developed long before HSR was real, and really took no account of the needs of trains. It’s really a $4 billion bus station with a little space for trains shoved in because they saw some cash they could make a grab for.
    I applaud Quentin Kopp for fighting back meaning the HSR funds will be used for actual HSR construction, rather than an inadequate basement that may never be used.

  11. Posted by anon

    ^^^ Eminent doamin will not necessarily rescue underwater condo owners, although for reasons of expediency and politics it may play out that way. As for who gets the $$$, take a look at the standard FNMA mortgage you signed at the closing but probably didn’t read — the answer is in there.

  12. Posted by Mikey

    The Beale alternative is far superior to the current plan of putting rail in the basement of the Transbay Terminal for these reasons:
    Except that it dumps you in the middle of nowhere–it’s still a hike to downtown from there.

  13. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    My immediate take on this was that CAHSR was compelled to explore these alternatives despite their opinion that the original transbay plan was the best.
    By demonstrating that the alternative will require the demolition of a brand new highrise, they both fulfill their requirement to explore alternative routes while simultaneously shooting them down.
    My opinion is that CAHSR should not allow quibbling over this final mile to take the whole HSR project down with it. Worst case : put the terminus in San Jose while electrifying and improving CalTrain so that SJ-SF expresses run in 20 minutes (we could already run such express trains today in 30 minutes if we wanted to). Total travel time from SF to LA would be just a little bit longer than if HSR went all the way to SF. In case you’re wondering, HSR won’t be running at anywhere near top speed on the SJ-SF segment even under the best circumstances.
    The extension of HSR to SF can always be completed as a separate phase.

  14. Posted by BM

    [i]Except that it dumps you in the middle of nowhere–it’s still a hike to downtown from there.[/i]
    Middle of nowhere eh? When you exit the station at the north end you’re 1 block from Market St. Somehow I don’t think that they’d miss the opportunity put a pedestrian tunnel up Beale to have a seamless connection to the Embarcadero BART/MUNI station.

  15. Posted by salarywoman

    I’m sure the terminal could be located on Beale without demolishing anything. For the most part he tunnels could be run under existing rights of way. This is obviously being presented as a straw man by people who do not want to see it happen and the outraged kerfuffle about it is exactly what they were hoping for.

  16. Posted by craeg

    HSR terminating in San Jose is about as possible as it terminating in Oakland.
    Give me a break.

  17. Posted by hmmm

    @lyqwyd:
    au contraire. The Beale Street alternative, while providing more tracks, is probably less operationally flexible and would not necessarily provide any more capacity BECAUSE it would irrevocably be a stub-end station (like the current railyards) where all trains have to back out the way they came and cross over the tracks to head in the right direction. On the other hand, Transbay can be operated as a through-station as it provides to the opportunity to create a loop via Main Street/Embarcadero/Townsend so that trains can just load and continue on their merry way. A loop is more efficient and has higher throug-put. This loop is being planned as we speak as a second phase of the DTX. 6-track through-station versus 12-track stub-end station? The 6-track station probably has higher capacity and is operationally more flexible.

  18. Posted by Zig

    “Worst case : put the terminus in San Jose while electrifying and improving CalTrain so that SJ-SF expresses run in 20 minutes (we could already run such express trains today in 30 minutes if we wanted to). Total travel time from SF to LA would be just a little bit longer than if HSR went all the way to SF.”
    Does this 20 minute train necessitate more passing tracks for locals and other commuter services? As far as I have seen this is not possible. Or are we didicated a track for this train? I am not sure this could be scheduled. This would also be a train traveling at about 160+ mi/hr.
    Trains terminating in San Jose is beyond retarted for HSR IMO. Between that and temrinating at 4th and King what is the point?

  19. Posted by corntrollio

    “The extension of HSR to SF can always be completed as a separate phase.”
    That’s possible, I suppose. The SJ to LA portion is required by Prop 1A to be 2:14 or less. SF to LA must be 2:42 or less. And SJ to SF must be 31 mins or less and is planned for 125 mph max, as opposed to 220 mph through desolate parts of the Central Valley.
    I think technically they could build LA to SJ first, but they couldn’t build any other phase of HSR with this $9B until finishing Transbay Terminal to LA Union Station. Note that Transbay Terminal is written into law as a terminus, so this seems like silly posturing by Kopp to try to get Transbay’s federal funds.
    http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/text-proposed-laws/text-of-proposed-laws.pdf
    Btw, CAHSR Blog has covered some of this well:
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2009/09/a-compromise-proposal-for-tjpa-and-chsra/
    The option of constructing tracks under nearby Beale Street to create a station that would be intermodal with both the bus terminal and with Embarcadero BART at Market Street was rejected for the following reasons: tunneling risk near the Bay Bridge anchorage, limited width that would require a multi-story station and, potential problems with box sewers under Embarcadero and Mission plus the foundations of older buildings between Market and Mission. There is also a desire to reserve Mission Street for a second BART line served by a second transbay tube, a very expensive project that may one day become indispensable.
    And so has Transbay Blog:
    http://transbayblog.com/2009/09/11/trans-beale-terminal/

  20. Posted by Delancey

    Page 11 of the PDF shows among other things a “Rincon Hill tunnel route”. Does this mean we can demo ORH?
    (someone had to say it)

  21. Posted by lyqwyd

    @hmmm
    “This loop is being planned as we speak as a second phase of the DTX”
    I haven’t heard of any such plans, can you provide a reference? What I am aware of is that the original transbay plan had a loop-back allowing trains to enter on one end and exit on the other, but that was eliminated due to cost.
    If a new transbay tube was created you would have less conflict as trains would then be entering and exiting from both ends, but only 6 platforms to use for getting on/off the train. With Beale you would have a somewhat higher level of conflict on entering and leaving, but far less conflict when trains are at the platform. No matter how fast you can get people on and off, it’s much more time than the time spent crossing a junction while entering or leaving the station. I see it as a wash, or somewhat favoring Beale, particularly when you consider the trains have to move slower for a longer time due to the tight turn radii of the current transbay plan.
    I’m all for planning for the future, which is why I favor Beale. There will be no new tube for decades, but even if there ever is one, I think Beale will still provide a better quality of service. I’m no rail engineer, so I could be wrong, but I’d need much more detail to be convinced that Beale would be significantly inferior if a new tube was built.

  22. Posted by Gil

    If it is true as Kopp writes that the First & Mission site can’t handle projected 2035 capacity is that not a non-starter?
    That assertion is true or false. If true why are they even considering the site? The answer is obvious.
    All this wringing of hands over loosing about half a billion in grants is the Transbay plan does not move forward – I find to be silly given the 2.8 billion cost to build 1.3 miles from King to Mission when the whole 450 miles costs 33 billion.
    What are the costs of the alternatives? Certainly stopping at King is 2.8 billion cheaper more than wiping out the 500 – 500 million stimulus grant if built at Mission.

  23. Posted by oh really?

    “HSR terminating in San Jose is about as possible as it terminating in Oakland.
    Give me a break.”
    Really? The South Bay including Peninsula is the economic bread basket of the Bay Area and the marjority of the population would be better served since they live south of SFO. San Jose is after all the largest city in Northern California.
    Many urban areas now have airports located far outside the central area and are connected by express trains such as the Heathrow Express and nobody complains. Why would people not be willing to ride the San Fracisco Express from the Transbay Terminal in San Jose? I would imagine most tourists would still arrive at this city via airports while Caltrain will be used by people who actually live in California, and in Northern Califronia, they live in the South Bay.

  24. Posted by underwater relief

    There is a meeting tonight at 7pm at 650 Howard St. to discuss this topic and other underwater condo issues affecting the South Beach area.

  25. Posted by Gil

    “Really? The South Bay including Peninsula is the economic bread basket of the Bay Area and the marjority of the population would be better served since they live south of SFO. San Jose is after all the largest city in Northern California.”
    Exactly. The piece up the Peninsula is cost prohibitive. Enhance CalTrain to feed from an SJ terminus to SF.
    The whole idea of going to SF instead of Oakland for the final leg was a politically imposed decision that ignores the realities of the area. Oaklnad is far more central to the Bay Area than SF and should have been the terminus. But TPTB in the north are SF beholdin so the right decision was ignored.

  26. Posted by Delancey

    oh really –
    SFO is at best one quarter the way from SF to SJ, so I’m not sure what your point is about population distribution. But, realize that SFO is a large airport, and SJC is not. Tourists fly to SFO, not SJC. Locating the rail terminal closer to SFO works much better for connecting to international flights.
    For LA to SF travellers, changing trains in San Jose is a showstopper, especially with baggage. People would continue to fly the nonstops instead of taking the train. Can you imagine the hassle of carrying large suitcases onto Caltrain? It is designed for commuters, not travellers.
    One question; you wouldn’t happen to live in Palo alto or Menlo Park, would you?

  27. Posted by Scooter

    There’s a slight difference in scale, oh really?, with Heathrow Airport being 14 miles from central London (a trip which, though an express train, takes 15 minutes), and San Jose being 60 miles from downtown San Francisco.

  28. Posted by noearch

    gosh, I wish I could get the J-church to run right thru my garage…sure be a convenient stop.

  29. Posted by Oh Really?

    I must admit I like Gil’s plan of having two terminus points for the Bay Area, Oakland and San Jose. For decades rail passengers to San Francisco arrived in Oakland and then took the ferry across the bay and did not call it a “show stopper”. Why do most people assume travellers to the Bay Area are going directly to San Francisco?

  30. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “For LA to SF travellers, changing trains in San Jose is a showstopper”
    You’ve got to be kidding. A showstopper ? really ? I guess that showstopper would exclude over half of Japanese or European long distance journeys that require one or more transfers. Yet somehow those plucky Japanese and Europeans still seem to get around quite easily.
    As for Heathrow, I traveled to London frequently for several years before the LHR express went into service. Getting to my destination required two tube trains and a BR (Network Southeast) train. It was easy, you just need to know the right transfer stations. In my case it was Hammersmith where you just get off of the Piccadilly line and wait on the same platform for a District line train.
    That was on the London subway and there was plenty of space for my luggage as well as the dozens of other air travelers’ luggage. Caltrain is even better. Did you know that there is a designated luggage car on Caltrain ? BTW – I was off on my time projections on Caltrain for SJ-SF express. It should have been 40 minutes now, 30 minutes with some basic trackway improvements (grade separations, more passing tracks). Still not a show stopper unless you are very very picky.
    And if you’re so laden with luggage then you’ll need to be taking cabs anyways whether flying or taking the train. I’m sure you’ve noticed that most SFO-LAX passengers carry their luggage onboard so this is not an issue for the majority.
    I don’t oppose a SF HSR transbay terminus at all and in fact I think it is the best plan. What worries me however is that the entire project could be derailed on what is really a minor reduction in service (and hardly a showstopper, what hyperbole !). LA-SJ is a subset of the whole project anyways.
    So start the uncontroversial segments first while sorting out this last mile issue. The minor interim delay for SF passengers is really no big deal.

  31. Posted by anon

    MOD – An every 20 minute Caltrain with more passing tracks and grade separations quickly becomes just as expensive to construct as HSR. A more realistic approach is talking about terminating HSR at 4th and King rather than the TBT.

  32. Posted by Jim

    This is just Quentin Kopp once again trying to show his is bigger than yours. Remember, we owe the idiotic configuration of BART to the Airport to uncle Quentie – with a “Y” with some trains dead ending in the airport and others headed south, forever creating a major operational problem for BART as well as the passengers.

  33. Posted by oh really?

    “An every 20 minute Caltrain with more passing tracks and grade separations quickly becomes just as expensive to construct as HSR”
    But wouldn’t that every 20 minute express style Caltrain be used by FAR more people, especially all those Noe and Bernal South Bay commuters?
    (And Peninsula dwellers who work in the city?)

  34. Posted by corntrollio

    “SFO is at best one quarter the way from SF to SJ, so I’m not sure what your point is about population distribution. But, realize that SFO is a large airport, and SJC is not. Tourists fly to SFO, not SJC. Locating the rail terminal closer to SFO works much better for connecting to international flights.”
    Speaking of local airports, an interesting suggestion by one of the bloggers I mentioned above is to use Castle/Merced airport (formerly Castle AFB) as overflow for Bay Area long-haul flights, since it would be approximately a 40 min ride via HSR from San Jose. The blogger is probably a little aggressive in suggesting it could replace SJC, but he’s right that existing Bay Area airports are limited by being so close to population centers.
    The additional idea is that Castle could be used for high speed cargo, which actually seems more likely to me.

  35. Posted by Delancey

    Changing trains in San Jose is not a showstopper due to impracticality, but due to competing with cheap non-stop flights.
    Just how does Caltrain get down to 30 minutes between SJ and SF? Is that going to cost much less than running HSR all the way to SF, ignoring the 4th&King vs TB terminal costs? Does Caltrain have the excess capacity to handle a HSR last-leg to SF bump in usage (30 minutes or less, 12 trains per hour peak)?
    Sorry, this is getting off-topic and I’ll drop it here. This thread is about demo-ing the Watermark and compensating the condo owners with unsold lower-floor inventory from ORH (I keed).

  36. Posted by corntrollio

    Btw, I should also add that for Tokaido Shinkansen (i.e. the line between Tokyo and Osaka), there are only 6 tracks for Tokaido at the Tokyo station and only 3.5 at the Osaka station (3 dedicated to Tokaido, one shared with another Shinkansen line). Note that Tokaido runs on a 2 track “throat” at Tokyo. Tokaido runs 11 tph from Tokyo during peak hours (the overall two-track Tokaido line allows 15 tph). There are no tail tracks at Tokyo for Tokaido, and Tokyo functions as a true terminus with the rail depot off of the mainline a little ways from the station.
    In comparison, Transbay would have 6 tracks, 4 of which are dedicated to HSR, along with tail tracks. The downtown extension from 4th and King has a 3-track throat. And Kopp is suggesting that the design specs need to allow 12 tph. The rail depot would be similar, being at 4th and King.
    A few thoughts:
    1) So, Transbay has roughly the same throat as Tokyo (since Caltrain takes up 1/3 of the station), 2 fewer tracks, but has the added bonus of tail tracks. The tail tracks should theoretically help you increase throughput to compensate partially for the fewer tracks.
    2) I don’t understand why CA HSR assumes that trains will sit at stations for extended periods of time. That seems particularly wasteful of a limited resource — trains don’t make money sitting at stations!
    3) It also would make sense to create a loop as mentioned above, which could increase throughput and could probably achieve 12 tph without needing more than 4 tracks at Transbay. You’ll need the loop anyway if there is ever true HSR transbay service to Oakland (and Sacramento).
    4) Why can’t you dig out 2 more tracks/1 more island platform under Transbay if you really need more than 4 tracks? Couldn’t you make Transbay a 2-level train station, with 2 HSR + 2 Caltrain tracks on one level, and 4 HSR tracks on the second?
    5) Why not make Caltrain and HSR able to use the same platforms, so you have 4+ tracks for HSR under the current design?
    Some of these design specs don’t make much sense.

  37. Posted by jamie

    What’s not been mentioned (at least I didn’t see it) here is that there is a $400 million ARRA grant that the Transbay JPA has applied to get to build the train box as part of Phase I of the Transbay Transit Center (and save about $100 million by doing so instead of building the above ground station and then digging down under to build out the Caltrain extension). $400 million is a one-time gift horse looking San Francisco in the face – a chance to create a helluva lot of jobs at a time when jobs are needed. The problem that the CHSRA Board Members have created by asking for alternative terminus sites like the Beale Street Alternative (that is totally proposterous considering the main anchor of the Bay Bridge ain’t going nowhere to make way for their train track – not to mention our water infrastructure under the Embarcadero).. The problem is that this takes away the “shovel-readiness” of the Transbay JPA train box – and if there’s uncertainty about where the high-speed rail terminates in San Francisco, our chances at $400 million are decreased quite a bit.
    If they really need to have capacity to run high-speed rail trains to San Francisco every 5 minutes, they should be able to utilize the current 4th and King Caltrain lot as a secondary terminus in San Francisco and stop this foolish talk that is gambling $400 million in federal grant money and hundreds (thousands?) of jobs for the political ego of Quentin Kopp and the other folks on the CHSRA Board who bristle at the idea of a Northern California City (versus Southern California) getting that much economic stimulus from Washington, D.C.
    If you’d like to help write letters to the CHSRA Board (I believe the Chair is the Mayor of Anaheim), send me an email at RinconHill@gmail.com and I will be sure you get the needed information and form letter to shoot off to the appropriate recipients. They’ve only had 1,000 responses about their various route plans from here to San Jose …. if we can muster 1,000 letters to tell them to forget about the Beale Street Option, the sooner they take it off the table the better our chances to get $400 million and the better for me and my neighbors living at BayCrest and Watermark.

  38. Posted by Water

    The parking at the watermark is the first three floors of the building (no underground parking) so you can’t eliminate it unless you plan to levitate the building.

  39. Posted by Zig

    San Jose, and the downtown in particular, is not a destination. It in fact is the only large city other than Detroit in the US that has a lower day time population than night.
    It is important to note that because there are a whole lot of decentralized jobs in the region means nothing for rail at all
    VTA lightrail is the worst in the nation. BART to San Jose will fail
    There is one city that has a chance to be successfully served with rail (both local and inner city) and that’s San Francisco

  40. Posted by zig

    To summarize there really is one true rail friendly destination in the entire state right now and its downtown San Francisco
    Downtown LA is a distant second. San Jose isn’t on the list.
    The upgrades that high speed rail would bring improve the local rail networks in both SF and LA
    It would be extremely foolish to create terminal stations in downtown San Jose or downtown Oakland if you want this thing to even have a chance for success since nobody (relatively) is going to these places
    Being time competitive with air travel or long distance driving is about destinations within reasonable walking or transit distance and seamless travel

  41. Posted by anon

    But wouldn’t that every 20 minute express style Caltrain be used by FAR more people, especially all those Noe and Bernal South Bay commuters?
    (And Peninsula dwellers who work in the city?)

    Um, yes. And HSR comes with every 20 minute Caltrain service, hence my note about it costing just as much, because it’s basically the same thing (construction wise).

  42. Posted by Boris

    “San Jose is after all the largest city in Northern California”
    You’re right that San Jose is the largest single entity with the same municipal boundary. However, within the space that SJ takes up, you could fit ALL of SF, Oakland, and Berkeley, with dozens of square miles of space left over. Using municipal boundaries to claim the “largest” of something is pretty lame, IMO, and reminds me of the folks that talk about LA County having the most millionaires, without mentioning that the county has 5 million more people than any other county in the US, simply because of bizarrely big lines on the ground compares to the rest of the country.

  43. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Has anyone proposed not to bring HSR to SF or am I missing something zig ? I think the only thing in question here is the phasing of bringing SF online.
    Jamie does however bring up a compelling point about the train box construction though. Looks like more of a political issue than a practical one.

  44. Posted by Zig

    “Exactly. The piece up the Peninsula is cost prohibitive. Enhance CalTrain to feed from an SJ terminus to SF.”
    Lots on this thread seem to be implying or are explicilty saying that San Jose being more economically important (false) and larger (meanigless in this context)) means it is the logical terminus.
    Even in a phasing scenerio you are setting the whole thing to fail terribly as 20 minute connections on a local are not possible for a number of reasons, namely the speed would be too high and the cost to make this happen would be the same as simply running the HSR all the way to 4th and King
    Either it goes all the way to downtown SF or it won’t be very competititve.

  45. Posted by Po Hill Jeff

    Boris: San Jose is the largest both by area *and* by population, with more than 100K more than SF, and more than twice as many as Oakland.
    zig: SF may be more conducive to rail by temperament and population density, but in terms of connectivity SJ already bests it, with three separate commuter rail lines (Amtrak, ACE, and Caltrain) and one light rail line meeting at the very same downtown station. Contrast that with the SF situation.
    I’m generally an HSR supporter but this SF centrism seems misplaced. I ride Caltrain frequently and I don’t think it would kill me to change in SJ if I were making a longer trip.

  46. Posted by zig

    “zig: SF may be more conducive to rail by temperament and population density, but in terms of connectivity SJ already bests it, with three separate commuter rail lines (Amtrak, ACE, and Caltrain) and one light rail line meeting at the very same downtown station. Contrast that with the SF situation.”
    Look at the ridership on these lines and get back to me. You want to build a train to nowhere you have it terminate in San Jose.

  47. Posted by JJ

    Did anyone attend the South Beach meeting last night? Anything worth while to report?

  48. Posted by EBGuy

    Here’s something to offend everyone (don’t remember if I read it here first or on another website):
    Altamont pass with a split terminus at SF and San Jose (half the trains turn south before the bay crossing). You’ve cut your traffic up the penninsula in half (nod to the nimbys) and the current train box capacity is large enough.

  49. Posted by Kathleen

    Baycrest and Watermark slated for the wrecking ball? I would not miss either building.

  50. Posted by Boris

    Boris: San Jose is the largest both by area *and* by population, with more than 100K more than SF, and more than twice as many as Oakland.
    Um, Po Hill Jeff, that was my point. Geographic size of city is irrelevant. IF you take the same geographic size of SJ and use it further north, you get all of SF, Oakland, and Berkeley in the same area – meaning MUCH higher density of people (and money). HSR needs a density of both to happen, not a meaningless total size spread out over a gigantic area. Lines on a map don’t mean much, other than for political stuff. Density of people and dollars is what matters.

  51. Posted by Gil

    Density needed but taking SF/Oakland/Berkeley, Oakland is more central to the overall population. Talking Alameda County and SF County. Not to mention CCC which is where most of the Bay Area’s growth has taken place in recent years.
    This was a political decision – to place the stop in SF. It should have been Oakland and that hub would have cost less to do and hooked up with AMTRAK easily.
    We can hope that with the State’s economy, the in-fighting about to take place over the SF location (if First/Mission is chosen you can bet there will be lawsuits) that ultimately a re-look at making Oakland the terminus will occur out of practical considerations if nothing else.
    BTW, Kopp notes that Cal High Speed Rail Authority must complete its “legally enorceable duty” to evaluate alternatives. He says they have to show that rail facilities at First and Mission must be ;large enough to handle both CalTrain and HSR peak projected capacity.
    Kopp says the Mission site can’t met peak capacity. That is why a lawsuit, given Kopps words, seems inevitable if they choose Mission. It will be up to the defendents to prove Mission can handle the traffic. If it can’t it will be back to the drawing boards. As this potentially plays out for years, Oakland could emerge as the viable alternative hub.

  52. Posted by windowshopper

    JJ, if you scroll up, Jamie’s post is basically a recap of the meeting.
    My main take away is that this Beale alternative plan will not be selected as the final plan, but is rather an attempt to divert the $400 million obama funds away from the transbay terminal project.
    The earliest this plan can be rejected is September 2011, but in the meantime, sellers at the Watermark, Baycrest, etc. will have to disclose that there is a current plan under consideration that would call for their building to be demolished.

  53. Posted by salarywoman

    The problem is not where the terminus should be in SF, the problem is getting up the peninsula. Above grade is politically infeasible, below grade is hopelessly expensive and using the 101 right of way is too far away from city centers.
    But if that finally got sorted out and the Beale Street location was clearly the way to go then what do do about the Watermark is a no brainer. Just rebuild it to the north (where it was originally proposed to be sited anyway). Transfer everyone’s ownership to the new building and move them in. Then demolish the old one. Far cheaper than buying everyone out – even at current prices.
    But I still say it’s a straw man proposal.

  54. Posted by anon

    Gil – on what basis are you assuming that an Oakland terminal would be cheaper? The land for the peninsula HSR exists on the Caltrain corridor (which is already owned by the three counties that it passes through and wide enough for HSR in all but about 3% of the distance). The ROW in the East Bay is all owned by private railroads, which would milk the CHSRA for all its worth – billions and billions to buy the ROW for sure (and forget about sharing it – Union Pacific has said that that is out of the question). In addition, there are many more places in the East Bay where eminent domain would be needed, since the RR ROWs over there are not nearly as wide as the Caltrain corridor (because Southern Pacific widened it for four tracks back in the early 20th century).
    Kopp is playing politics as much as anyone else, and is sold to private interests as much as anyone else – he’s merely looking for a method that works out well for him and his interests (BART to SFO didn’t cost what it did because of any operational reason – it was all politics and padding Bechtel’s and PB’s pockets – this look at an “alternative” is the same – especially since he’s using this nonsense about there needing to be more than four HSR tracks at the TBT – a railroad engineer can tell you that four tracks [with proper operations - none of this idea that trains must layover for 30 minutes for cleaning at some of the most expensive underground real estate in the country!!!] is more than enough for 12 tph)

  55. Posted by Gil

    ” – this look at an “alternative” is the same – especially since he’s using this nonsense about there needing to be more than four HSR tracks at the TBT – a railroad engineer can tell you that four tracks [with proper operations - none of this idea that trains must layover for 30 minutes for cleaning at some of the most expensive underground real estate in the country!!!] is more than enough for 12 tph”
    I’m not an engineer and don’t know if Kopp’s assertion is true or not.
    However, if it is true then building at Mission would be a boondoggle.
    It’s going to be decided in court is my guess.
    Kopp makes some bold assertions in his article. If it is half true then Mission needs to be stopped and another site looked at. Kopp says that beale was the original preferred site BTW.

  56. Posted by anon

    ^Kopp lost all credibility with me years ago after all of the BART debacles. He’s on an ego trip now, nothing more. Beale was a preferred site BEFORE any study was done. Studies clearly show it to be far inferior (and FAR more complicated – the water table issues alone are worth billions to Bechtel and PB, which is probably Kopp’s primary motivation).

  57. Posted by jamie

    Flip to page 11 on this report prepared by multiple transit agencies http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/rail/HSR_PeninsulaInvest_brief_6-24-09.pdf … notice that CHSRA still says Transbay Transit center is the “preferred” location. They’re doubled capacity needs for 2035 doesn’t seem to jive with reality … didn’t they just report lower ridership estimates on Tuesday (and increased pricing for the L.A. to S.F. trip)?
    I hope the Beale Street Alternative is just a straw man, but the CHSRA is going to create a lot of enemies possibly calling for the extinction of this public agency if they don’t eliminate the Beale Street Alternative swiftly (which impacts our property values and causes mucho anxiety for all involved – in addition to possibly costing us $400 million in stimulus money from ARRA federal funds and the jobs it’d create).
    Seems to me that CHSRA was just struggling to survive the budget axe prior to 2008 …. the politicians on their Board need to hear some hell-raising from us to let them know they aren’t escaping the wording of Prop 1A in 2008 that said the terminus, if they want to issue the $10 billion in bonds, has to be the Transbay Transit Center.

  58. Posted by corntrollio

    “a railroad engineer can tell you that four tracks [with proper operations - none of this idea that trains must layover for 30 minutes for cleaning at some of the most expensive underground real estate in the country!!!] is more than enough for 12 tph””
    I would agree with that assessment, especially if there are tail tracks and/or a loop track. But Japan’s experience (which I detailed above) would also tell you that 12 tph is a sham estimate (considering that Tokyo has 3-4 times the population of SF and Japan is much more train-friendly than California). This is just Kopp being Kopp, as many others have mentioned.

  59. Posted by anon

    “The earliest this plan can be rejected is September 2011″
    Well, the $400MM stimulus grant will be decided by March 31, 2010. And demolition of the current tranbay terminal (and excavation for the HSR platform at that site) begins immediately afterward…

  60. Posted by lyqwyd

    A lot of you seem to be forgetting that Caltrain will be sharing the station, and Caltrain alone has (realistic) plans to run 12 trains per hour in a decade or two.
    It is unlikely that Caltrain and HSR will be able to share platforms, as the HSR trains & EMU (the type of train Caltrain will use once electrification happens) do not share the same heights or widths. The width is particularly important as Caltrain will most likely have to share tracks with freight, which has it’s own physical characteristics.
    It’s not impossible to resolve the platform issue, but it is not trivial.
    I agree it’s unlikely HSR will run 12tph to SF, but 8tph to SF during peak hour is quite possible.
    So we are really talking about 20 trains per hour or more, quite possibly in a situation where the different types of trains are not able to share platforms. Throw in the possibility of a new transbay tube (although I agree it’s not likely for at least several decades at the earliest) and you will also have Amtrak trains going to the station, which have completely separate platform height & width requirements.
    The transbay station needs to be built with the possibility to handle at least the next 50 years of ridership growth (if not the next 100 years), and the current plan does not come anywhere near doing that, while the Beale alternative does have the possibility.
    Oh, by the way, the current plan (train station in transbay basement) is the one that was chosen for political reasons.

  61. Posted by corntrollio

    I’m not sure where you’re getting those Caltrain numbers, but I think everyone acknowledges that Caltrain will continue to run a lot of trains to 4th and King and not all the way to TBT. It’s pretty clear that Kopp has very little interest in helping out Caltrain, so Caltrain’s tph seems like a red herring in the TBT vs. Beale issue.
    Btw, I believe the reason a dual-level box was ruled out for TBT was the extra cost (something like $225M). I assume if a new Transbay tube were to be built, they’d actually need the second level.

  62. Posted by lyqwyd

    Yes, they acknowledge that because the basement station cannot handle it. It is irrelevant weather Kopp cares about Caltrain (there I agree with you, he does not). The fact is that it is a bade idea to build a train station that can’t handle trains! It makes no sense to leave Caltrain terminating the majority of it’s trains at 4th & King, which is a minimum 20 minute walk to downtown
    Might I also mention that the entire station had no plan for HSR until 1 year ago, it was originally designed to accommodate a future Caltrain extension. Sure, they played lip service to HSR, but there was no serious though put in to it.

  63. Posted by lyqwyd

    re Caltrain numbers:
    Caltrain runs 6 trains an hour during peak right now. Caltrain has been growin 8% per year for the last 5 years. But even at only 3% annual growth Caltrain will double it’s ridership in 25 years.
    I believe Caltrain will do much better than 3% annual growth, particularly once the line is electrified & grade separated and brought closer to downtown, but all it needs is 3% annual growth.
    Is it going to run 12tph all day, no, but it’s perfectly reasonable to assume it will during peak hour within the next couple decades.

  64. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “It makes no sense to leave Caltrain terminating the majority of it’s trains at 4th & King, which is a minimum 20 minute walk to downtown”
    How so ? Mission Bay is rapidly adding homes and jobs, attracting more traffic to the existing 4th&King station.
    And keep in mind that the majority of Caltrain riders don’t travel to downtown SF and will be unaffected by any decision of whether all trains terminate at downtown anyways.
    Success does not depend on 100% of trains terminating at downtown. All you need are *enough* trains serving downtown to support demand for that station. Of course so long as there is capacity at the downtown station, it makes sense to send as many as possible trains there. Think of 4th&King as the overflow station.

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